When the little sister of one of your best friends sends you a note asking if you would be willing to travel to Jamaica and photographer her wedding, you say yes. Who am I kidding, when ANYONE asks you if you would be willing to fly to Jamaica and photograph their wedding, you say YES. I was so thrilled to have the date (and week) open to be able to make this trip happen. Jamaica is a place I had thought about many times over the years, but never really dreamed I would get to visit. So when the opportunity was offered, I was totally in. My family and I applied for our passports, booked our flights, and then waited the several months until the big travel day. We had already spent a week in San Diego, California for another work engagement and caught a red-eye headed to Miami from there. We landed in Kingston a little exhausted and starving, but our driver stopped at Burger King in downtown Kingston so we could eat. We sipped our grape soda (“Mom! It’s like drinking pop rocks!”) and gobbled our fries and Whopper as we traveled north to Ochos Rios.
An hour and a half later and we were at the resort settling in to our room, navigating the grounds to the nearest pool and the soft sand of the Caribbean. We didn’t meet up with our group until the next morning at breakfast when I spotted a huge table with a few faces I recognized from the on going What’s App conversation prior to the trip. But, we kept zigging and zagging with the bride and groom and still hadn’t seen them yet. We hung out at on the beach, had our first jerk chicken (zomg, so good), and a few cocktails from the swim up bar(yeah mon!), and then, finally spotted the couple and their family bobbing along in the blue waters where I got to talk details and plans with the bride.We had one more day to settle in, and then, on Monday it was the big day. The wedding day went something like this.
Lead the family in a little bit of beach yoga, (BONUS! I teach yoga too). Then, I head to the spa to catch the ladies getting their nails done and relaxing before the day picks up speed. I make my way down the hall and find the room where the bride is going to get ready. I snag a few detail shots and start getting used to the light in the room. I catch the mother and sister of the bride hauling mimosa fixings, and let them in as we all “oooh and ahhh” over the details of the wedding gown and a maybe get teary over the words I hear the my best friend and sister of the bride rehearsing for the ceremony.
The bride arrives and the prepping and primping begin. I love this part of the wedding day. The excitement and the love towards the bride that happen the hour or two before the ceremony is so special. The rituals and the care that go into hair and makeup are like a rite of passage in many way. I sneak away for a few minutes and make my way up stairs to see how the guys are getting along in their prep. When I got there I found the groom helping the boys with their vests, tucking in dress shirts and rolling up sleeves. The music is loud and the smiles louder. The joy and the anticipation is tangible as I snap a few more shots, and then get out of their way to finish up. I get back to the bride’s room just in time to see the flower girls arrive. And then it’s time for the bride to slide into her dress. This is another detail of the day that I adore. Watching all the hands carefully help and assist to make everything perfect gets me every single time.
A few final touches and everyone heads outside. The moment is finally here, and everyone takes their respective place.
The ceremony is short in length, but definitely not short in meaning. Not only do Veronica and Tram exchange rings with one another, but they each share a ring with the other’s son. (The boys are 6 months apart in age and some of the nicest teenagers I have come across yet). You may kiss your bride!
Bartender! Drinks for EVERYONE!!! Here’s the entire party, look at that beautiful gang of family and friendship. Seriously, this group was so much fun!! The grandsons and the grandmothers and great-grandmother. Mom of the bride with her two gorgeous daughters. The matriarch of the family – isn’t she beautiful? I had a really great conversation with her later in the week about family,traditions, and respect in the Vietnamese culture. I also got invited to dinner any time I am in Sacramento. um that’s another one you say YES to when you are asked.The new families!Cousin chaos doesn’t stop just because you grow up…. A sweet moment between the baby and grandmother, I think Lemon was challenging her grandmother to a race, don’t you??! You guys, this pink wall… I was all heart eyes over it. Sorta like these two are with each other.
The wind wasn’t cooperating, with our portraits. Good thing these two have such great senses of humor. And then, we headed to the party!!! I don’t know what is happening here, but it seems serious… hard to believe with this gang, so maybe they were just plotting the play list (or trying to figure out where Tam left his passport?)Speeches to make you laugh, speeches to make you cry – champagne to help you celebrate!Is it hot in here or is the cake about to go up in flames? !! Don’t worry, we caught it as soon as it started, it was out. Then we were all schooled in the Jamaican cake cutting traditions. And then, the steel drum band started and the bonfire was lit (and then, it truly was HOT IN HERE!)- the party was on!!Veronica and Tram, your wedding day (and week) was one of the most amazing and heartfelt times I have had the pleasure to document. Your families are so much fun, and the love they have for you and your boys is tangible. Thank you for including me (and my family) in this incredible adventure!
Keep chasing the light,